Australia, East Timor sign maritime border treaty

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United Nations, March 7 (IANS) Australia and East Timor have signed a treaty which demarcates their maritime border, and put an end to the dispute over the resource rich region between the two countries in recent years.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and East Timor minister responsible for the delimitation of borders, Hermenegildo Augusto Cabral Pereira, were in charge of sealing the agreement at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, Efe news reported on Tuesday.

Present at the signing of the treaty was the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who highlighted the historic nature of the event.

Guterres congratulated the two countries for their joint efforts to achieve a mutually acceptable result and for having successfully resorted to the conciliation mechanism of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for the first time.

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The new treaty ends a long conflict between Australia and East Timor, which became independent from Indonesia in 2002.

The two countries were embroiled in the dispute over the control of a maritime zone that includes the rich oil and gas reserve Greater Sunrise, located between the two nations.

The Greater Sunrise gas field contains approximately 255 billion cubic meters of gas and 300 million barrels of liquefied petroleum gas and condensates, valued last year at about $40.25 billion or some 30 times higher than Timor’s GDP.

In the treaty, the two sides delimit their maritime border and agree to establish a special legal status for the Greater Sunrise gas field, located about 150 km south of the maritime coasts of East Timor and 450 km north of the Australian city of Darwin.

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